A majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza approve of attacks against Israeli civilians and believe that an armed intifada would help them on the path to statehood, a recent poll has found.
The survey, carried out by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published on April 4, found that 60 percent of Palestinians support “armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel,” while 65 percent think that escalating the current wave of violence into an armed intifada would help Palestinian national aspirations in a way that negotiations could not. A plurality also believes that armed action is the most effective way to establish a Palestinian state.
Efforts by Palestinian Authority security services to contain violence, which a PA official quoted by the survey said prevented 200 attacks against Israelis, were opposed by 65 percent of Palestinians and supported by 30 percent.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains unpopular with his constituents, with about two-thirds of respondents demanding his resignation. If new elections took place in the West Bank and Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh – the leader of Hamas – would beat Abbas by 11 percentage points. However, if the competition was between Haniyeh and Marwan Barghouti – who is currently serving 5 life sentences in an Israeli prison for murder convictions – the latter would win by 18 percentage points.
Palestinians last held presidential elections in 2005. Abbas is currently on the 11th year of his four-year term.
A majority of Palestinians — 52 percent — also believe that Israel is planning to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are located on the Temple Mount, and build a synagogue in their place. The Israeli government has previously rejected the charge, and non-Muslim presence and activity on the Temple Mount remains highly restricted.
The survey also showed that 51 percent of Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, while 47 percent oppose the two-state solution. When asked about the Arab Peace Initiative — a plan that would include an Israeli retreat from the West Bank and Jerusalem and allow Palestinian refugees to immigrate to Israel and receive compensation in exchange for the Arab world normalizing its ties with Israel — 47 percent agreed with the plan, while 50 percent disagreed.
60 percent also opposed recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people within the context of a two-state solution, while 39 percent said they would support such a move.
Another 60 percent expressed disapproval of the Arab League’s recent decision to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. 69 percent of Palestinians reported favorable views of Iran, which backs Hezbollah, in light of news that Iran will provide financial support to the families of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israel.
A poll from the same organization in December found that two-thirds of Palestinians support knife attacks against Israelis, while 54 percent oppose a two-state solution.
[Photo: Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research]